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May 9, 2012

Passengers worst hit as Air India pilots strike continues

     New Delhi/Mumbai: The strike called by protesting Air India pilots continued with several international flights being cancelled from New Delhi and Mumbai. Around 160 Air India pilots owing allegiance to the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) had reported sick, resulting in the cancellation of at least 13 international flights. Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh had termed the strike by Air India pilots as illegal, saying the national carrier's management would take appropriate action against those involved in the stir. Singh noted that Air India is currently undergoing a turbulent period and crores of public money is being infused to run the carrier. He stressed that the pilots should come to the negotiating table and resolve their issues through dialogue, but not launch any strike. Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) President Jitendra Awhad on Tuesday blamed the management for turning a deaf year to their demands, and added that this had led the pilots to strike work. Awhad said the pilots' demands have been sidelined and described the Air India management as being stubborn. "The management is responsible for today's scenario, we have been talking to the management on certain demands for the last four days, we chalked out a final formula with the executive director industrial relations and executive director operations and general manager training and that formula, that draft was thrown in the waste paper basket by the chairman managing director asking who gave the right to these officers to talk," said Awhad. "Now, the question arises is that what were you doing for the last four days when you were talking to us, and they just made us roam door to door," he added. Awhad further said the six-month delay in the salaries of the pilots was adding to their woes. Passengers are the worst hit by the pilots' agitation. They allege that they are not being informed about the cancellation of their respective flights in advance. Air India had on Tuesday sacked ten agitating pilots, de-recognised their union and sealed its offices, as around 160 of them failed to join duty. A concerned Air India management had earlier met the pilots in New Delhi in a bid to defuse the crisis.
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